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Kristin Scott Thomas
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Pierre Jolivet is generally considered as a rather minor French director. His work encompasses winners like "Simple Mortel" (1991) or "Filles Uniques" (2003), but also failure like "Strictement Personnel" (1985) or "Force Majeure" (1989). I would classify "Fred" in the first category and it's a palatable thriller deeply rooted in the social, economical tendencies of the nineties with the closure of factories, workers who are made redundant without any future, hopeful prospects.
Fred (Vincent Lindon) is a former crane driver who was a victim of the closure of his factory. He takes care of the little boy of his girlfriend (Clotilde Courau), does the housework and sometimes goes to the job center but boredom is inescapable. One day, because he accepted to drive a truck for a friend to a warehouse, he's caught up in a vicious spiral that goes beyond him. It's all the more serious as shady men want to eliminate him an the police is on his back.
Apart from some glitches to bridge the scenario that are a little artificial, Pierre Jolivet deftly chose the scenery for his story with these suburbs located at the edge of town and at the threshold of the country which symbolize Fred's exclusion from society. Characters are everything but conventional like this disillusioned cop (François Berléand) who drowns his disgust for a dreary world in alcohol. It doesn't stop a potent delineation for all of them, from the minor characters to Fred himself, a not so lucid hard nut. Social drama and detective film are equally intertwined without the sensation that one of them has more place than the other.
Thriller is a cinematographic genre that isn't very well wielded in contemporary French cinema so you should honor Jolivet's genuine work.
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